Bruce Peninsula Newspapers Rivalry

Bruce Peninsula Newspapers Rivalry between the Wiarton Echo and Owen Sound newspapers promoting their communities was often vitriolic and led to acrimony between the two communities.

As the Grey Bruce region became more settled, rivalries developed between the various settlements in the area.

The goal of the citizens of the communities was to make their town or village the dominant port on Georgian Bay. 

This quest for economic and social importance often led to hash words and hard feelings between the townspeople of the competing centres.

Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century the newspapers of Owen Sound and Wiarton provided excellent examples of this friction between those two aspiring Georgian Bay ports. 

During the last two decades of the nineteenth century Wiarton was probably second only to Owen Sound as a transshipment port servicing the Bruce Peninsula.

This subordinate position did not rest well with editors of the Wiarton Echo

As a result, the Echo to every opportunity to extol the virtues of their town and to point out the shortcomings of Owen Sound.

One example occurred in the October 31, 1879 edition of the Wiarton Echo:

"We are always being reminded by our Owen Sound friends that their harbour is a model one; the finest, in fact, on the continent, and that ours is a ‘medium’ harbour.’ We are sorry we cannot ECHO their opinion. Experience will not warrant it. Last week the Francis Smith, heavily loaded, called in there on her up trip, and was obliged to land her passengers at Boyd's old wharf, a mile and a half out of town, for fear of sticking in the mud if she went into the harbour. The wharf was in shocking condition and ladies who were obliged to land did so at considerable risk and were compelled to walk a long distance over stones and other impediments before they could reach the bus to take them into the town. A truly magnificent harbour, indeed, wharf and all, and we think the least they say in its favour and decry other better harbours the more it will become them." 

The Echo was one of the newspapers that seemed to more often than the Owen Sound newspapers constantly criticize the condition of Owen Sound's harbour and promoted the idea that the Wiarton harbour was better. 

It decried the use of government money spent to upgrade Owen Sound's harbour. In its Feb. 13, 1880 edition, the Echo reported, "Owen Sound has sent a deputation to Ottawa on a begging expedition for their harbour." 

The editor of the Echo took every opportunity to criticize the use of government funds spent maintaining Owen Sound's harbour.

An example of this attitude can be seen on the front page of the Nov. 22, 1889 edition of the Echo: 

"The water was so low in Owen Sound harbour recently, that the C.P.R steamer Athabaska, grounded outside the outer light, and could not make her dock until she was lighted. It is a terrible waste of money to dredge Owen Sound harbour, because as much mud washes in each year as is dredged out.”

cpr athabaskaCPR Athabaska - Paul White Historic Postcard Collection

In 1903, the Echo reported that the Owen Sound Times stated that Wiarton was laid out 35 years ago and has been in the hands of the undertaker ever since.

The Echo responded by saying, “We sympathize with the undertaker, who in all probability, hailed from Owen Sound, Wiarton has proved one too many for him, as this town is still above the sod and VERY MUCH ALIVE today.”

By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, Owen Sound was firmly entrenched as a major port on Georgian Bay and for various reasons Wiarton’s port facility decreased in importance rapidly. Therefore as Wiarton’s hopes to replace Owen Sound as the major commercial port for the region decreased so to did the vitriolic reports by the newspapers.

Share this page:

Bruce Peninsula Towns & Villages

Towns & Villages: The first Bruce Peninsula towns and villages had a source of water power to run sawmills and a good harbour to ship forestry products to market. 

The 12th of July and Dominion Day Celebrations on the Bruce Peninsula were an outlet from the everyday drudgery of life for pioneers on the Bruce Peninsula.

Allenford United Church history details some important information about that community's church but also about one of the founders of this Ontario community.

A Pioneer Community: Driftwood Crossing (now Allenford): at the southern-most part of the Saugeen/Bruce Peninsula was at the midpoint between the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron coasts.

Land Auction in Amabel Township provided the opportunity for settlers to purchase land and begin a new life in Bruce County. On July 18, 1856, a notice signed by R.T. Pennefather, superintendent general the Indian Department, announced the public auction sale of 144,000 acres of land in the new townships of Amabel and Keppel. 

Barrow Bay Ontario: a Picturesque Georgian Bay Community owes its origin to the once-thriving Bruce Peninsula lumbering industry. Today it is a quiet summer get-away!

Bruce Peninsula Municipal Politics: No matter what the venue, or the issue, seldom is a decision made that suits everyone.

Bruce Peninsula Newspapers Rivalry between the Wiarton Echo and Owen Sound newspapers promoting their communities was often vitriolic and led to acrimony between the two communities.

Dyer's Bay Ontario: Began as a lumbering settlement but may also have been one of the earliest points on the Bruce Peninsula to be visited by French explorers. 

Elsinore Ontario: In the mid-1850s the first settlers arrived in the area just west of Allenford. However, it was not until 1865 when the North Gravel Road, or Highway 21 as it known today, was built that the village of Elsinore was established.

Hepworth Ontario: The early history of Hepworth is tied to two essential commodities, sawmilling and transportation. How Hepworth got its name is also an interesting story.

Lion's Head remained an important lumbering centre into the twentieth century. Today it is a centre of tourism, and the lion's head still guards the southern entrance to the bay. However, the same elements that created the image have continued to erode the rocky outcropping.

Park Head was an important Grand Trunk Railway depot on the Bruce Peninsula.

Sauble Beach: This popular beach in the 1950s was called Canada's Daytona Beach.

Sauble Beach Ontario is one of the most popular summer resorts in the province of Ontario. It welcomed its first summer visitors in the late 1800s and as continued to grow in popularity since that time.

Stokes Bay welcomed fishermen as their first non-native visitors. Today, if you are a fisherman, you will also probably want to try your luck landing a walleye, lake trout or any of the other game fish that live in the coastal waters of Lake Huron.

Tobermory Ontario has a rich history and, is the northern- most destination point for travellers visiting the world famous Bruce Peninsula.

Tobermory Ontario Tourism is focused on Fathom Five National Marine Park, Bruce Peninsula National Park, and, shipwreck diving which has become so popular that tourism has become an important part of that community's economy.

Tobermory Pioneers were first the fishermen who came to reap the rewards of the fishing-rich waters at the top of the peninsula.

Tupper Murray was one of the first names given to the community at the top of the Bruce Peninsula

Wiarton Ontario was known for its excellent natural harbour. It seemed to be a natural choice for the location of a port community. Colpoys Bay offered a natural harbour refuge for sailing vessels from storms on the often-tumultuous waters of Georgian Bay. As well, the harbour was located at the portage route across the base of the Bruce ...

Wiarton had Ambitions to Succeed but while success brought them a railroad and other ventures, one attempt did not have a sweet ending for many in the town.

Wiarton News: 1897 Town Council Report. By 1897 Wiarton was an established community and was experiencing some of the growing pains consistent with a community which was constantly expanding its physical borders. A November 1897 Wiarton council meeting reveals some the problems which that community was facing.

Wiarton Beet Industry: Wiarton's Sweet Enterprise Turns Sour! In their attempts to diversify Wiarton's economic base, a dramatic new industry was incorporated in 1896. Originally called the Owen Sound Sugar Manufacturing Company, the Wiarton Beet Sugar Manufacturing Company looked like it would have a large impact on the economy of the Wiarton area.

Wiarton Ontario's First Newspaper: The Echo viewed itself not only as a messenger of the news of the day, but also as a medium to promote the development of the interests of the Bruce Peninsula, and more particularly those of Wiarton.